Randy Vanderhoof, executive director of the Smart Card Alliance, told the Association of Corporate Travel Executives' global conference that the smart card industry supports the United States government's plans for higher security in the new epassports. These are passport documents containing a contactless chip that stores biometric identifiers. Vanderhoof was speaking at the association's conference in Vancouver, BC, yesterday. "The State Department says it is considering adding access control, shielding and encryption to protect personal data stored on the epassport's chip," Vanderhoof tells CardLine. "We think this is the right approach. The original plan was to start issuing the epassports to U.S. citizens beginning in January 2006, but there may well be delays if the government does add the additional security features." Vanderhoof says concerns had been expressed by privacy advocates and travel industry associations that personal data stored on the epassport could be vulnerable to interception by unauthorized parties. "The government is now saying that it won't rush the introduction of epassports, as it wants to address the security issues to make sure personal data is protected," Vanderhoof says. The Smart Card Alliance is a not-for-profit U.S.-based association whose aim is to promote the acceptance of smart card technology.